Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)

4.1 19
by Voltaire, Chris Ware
     
 

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With its vibrant new translation, perceptive introduction, and witty packaging, this new edition of Voltaire’s masterpiece belongs in the hands of every reader pondering our assumptions about human behavior and our place in the world. Candide tells of the hilarious adventures of the naïve Candide, who doggedly believes that “all is for the

Overview

With its vibrant new translation, perceptive introduction, and witty packaging, this new edition of Voltaire’s masterpiece belongs in the hands of every reader pondering our assumptions about human behavior and our place in the world. Candide tells of the hilarious adventures of the naïve Candide, who doggedly believes that “all is for the best” even when faced with injustice, suffering, and despair. Controversial and entertaining, Candide is a book that is vitally relevant today in our world pervaded by—as Candide would say—“the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well.”

Editorial Reviews

For nearly 250 years, readers have been tracking the ill-fated career of the inveterate Westphalian optimist Candide. Voltaire's brisk satire on the belief systems and institutions of his day still retains its verve because the 18th-century French philosopher never allows the fervency of his ideas to impinge on his sly tale.
Library Journal
Two standards of European literature join Penguin's Classics Deluxe Editions club. Candide sports an especially spiffy cover by comic artist Chris Ware and a top text. The Undset volume combines all three parts of the epic with explanatory notes. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143039426
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/25/2005
Series:
Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition Series
Edition description:
Classics Deluxe Edition
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
85,565
Product dimensions:
5.59(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Three

How Candide escaped from among the Bulgars,
and what became of him

Nothing was as beautiful, smart, dazzling, or well ordered as the two armies. The trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, and cannons created a harmony such as never existed in Hell. First of all, the cannons struck down almost six thousand men on each side. Then the muskets removed from the best of worlds between nine and ten thousand rogues infecting its surface. The bayonet was also the sufficient reason for the death of several thousand men. The total might well have come to some thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic butchery.

Finally, while the two kings had the Te Deum sung, each in his camp, Candide decided to go elsewhere to reason over effects and causes. Climbing over heaps of dead and dying men, he arrived at a neighboring village that lay in ashes: it was an Avar village that the Bulgars had burnt down in accordance with the principles of international law. Old men covered in wounds watched their butchered wives die clasping their infants to their bleeding breasts. Girls who had been disemboweled after having sated the natural needs of some of the heroes were breathing their last. Others, covered in burns, were begging to be put out of their misery. Brains were splattered on the ground alongside severed arms and legs.

Candide fled as fast as he could to another village. This one belonged to the Bulgars, and the Avar heroes had treated it the same way. Stepping over palpitating limbs and climbing over ruins, Candide, carrying a few provisions in his bag, finally managed to get out of the theater of war, never forgetting Mademoiselle Cunégonde. His provisions ran out when he reached Holland, but having heard that everyone in that country was rich and Christian, he did not doubt that he would be treated as well as he had been at the castle of His Lordship the Baron before he was driven from it on account of Mademoiselle Cunégonde’s beautiful eyes.

He asked for alms from several grave personages, all of whom replied that if he continued plying this trade he would be locked up in a house of correction, where he would be taught how to work for a living.
Then he approached a man who had just addressed a big crowd for a whole hour on the topic of charity.
The orator eyed him suspiciously and asked, "What are you doing here? Did you come for the Good Cause?"

"There is no effect without a cause," Candide replied modestly. "Everything is necessarily interconnected and arranged for the best. I had to be driven out of the presence of Mademoiselle Cunégonde, run the gauntlet, and beg for bread until I can earn my own. All this could not be otherwise."

"My friend," the orator said, "do you believe that the Pope is the Antichrist?"

"I have never yet heard that he is," Candide replied. "But whether he is the Antichrist or not, I need bread."

"You don’t deserve any," the orator said. "Go away, you rogue, you wretch! Don’t come near me again as long as you live!"

The orator’s wife poked her head out the window and, seeing the man who doubted that the Pope was the Antichrist, poured out on his head a chamber pot full of ...

Merciful Heaven! To what excess ladies will carry the zeal of religion!

A man who had not been baptized, a good Anabaptist by the name of Jacques, saw the cruel and disgraceful manner in which one of his brothers, a featherless, two-legged being with a soul, was being treated.* He took him to his place, washed him, gave him bread and beer, made him a gift of two florins, and even wanted to teach him to work in his factory, which manufactured Persian fabrics in Holland. Candide almost prostrated himself before him, exclaiming, "Doctor Pangloss had told me that everything is for the best in this world. I am infinitely more moved by your extreme generosity than by the severity of that man in the black cloak and his wife."

The following day, Candide was out walking when he came across a beggar covered in pustules. He had lifeless eyes, a nose that was rotting away, a mouth that was twisted, black teeth, and a rasping voice. He coughed violently, spitting out a tooth every time.

* The Anabaptists were an extreme Protestant sect that did not believe in infant baptism–in their view only adult baptism was valid. They believed in absolute social and religious equality. "A featherless, two-legged being" is a humorous reference to Plato’s definition of man.

Meet the Author

Voltaire, was born in 1694. For twenty years Voltaire lived chiefly away from Paris. In this, his most prolific period, he wrote such satirical tales as “Zadig” (1747) and “Candide” (1759). He died in 1778. Theo Cuffe translated Voltaire’s Micromégas and Other Short Fictions for Penguin Classics. Michael Wood is the writer and presenter of many critically acclaimed series on television, including In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and its accompanying book.

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Candide: Or Optimism 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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steveiewoolf More than 1 year ago
Candide is a third person narrative that can be seen as a piece of travel writing, a fable or a parable. What it most certainly is, is a satirical piece of writing that though written over 250 years ago it still has relevance today. To be more precise it is indirect satire which allows the readers to draw their own conclusions. It also allows Voltaire to disavow the words written. This is made clear by Voltaire not putting his name to the novel until some eight years later even though most readers were fully aware who had written it. The themes of the Candide are large, the hypocrisy of religion, the corrupting power of money and the folly of optimism.  Candide explores them all in detail within what should really be considered a novella. The edition I read is part of the Penguin Classics series, translated and edited by Theo Cuffe and has an introduction by Michael Wood, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. As with all the Penguin Classics series that I have read this is a superb edition. This edition includes a chronology, a map, notes on the text and names plus various appendices. Unless you have a good working knowledge of the 18th century then the notes are a must. With Candide being a satire than one needs to know the history of the period the book is set to understand what is being satirized.  In the midst of the novella is a love story; the love of Candide for Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter. When the Baron discovers Candide’s love for his daughter he is driven out of the castle. While trying to make his own way in the world he meets his tutor from his days at the castle, Pangloss. Pangloss informs him that Cunégonde is dead as are everyone else at the castle after it was attacked. From there Candide and the various companions he meets on his travels encounter an egregious series of events; an earthquake, the Inquisition, murder, rape, a shipwreck and many others.  Candide fights to maintain his optimism and Pangloss tries to maintain his belief that “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” Throughout the novella Voltaire is ridiculing the cosmic complacency and optimism that is expressed by philosophers of the day. The book is an intellectual, philosophical and religious journey through the period of the Enlightenment in what became known as the ‘long’ eighteenth century.  The novella moves a hectic pace which can leave one feeling breathless. The chapters are short and strangely each chapter has a heading which conveys the events that will occur in the chapter so ruining much of the novella’s suspense. The novel’s hectic pace was remarked on by the playwright Lillian Hellman who wrote the libretto for the operetta of the book for the stage; “the greatest piece of slap-dash ever written at the greatest speed.”
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As one of Voltaire's most renowned works, Candide definitely lives up to its reputation. Clearly the master of satire, Voltaire's wit and heavy sarcasm are weaved throughout the very fibers of the tale, Candide. An amazing author; Voltaire has the power to entice laughter, but lull reader's into deep thought at the same time, and he does no less with Candide. It is as intellectually stimulating and humorous as his other works-at least it is for those who aren't complete optimists, as Voltaire pokes fun of the philosophy of optimism that was popular during the Enlightenment period in which it was written. Candide tells the adventures of a youth by the name of Candide who was brought up in the palace of a Baron of Germany in Westphalia. Candide's very name means optimism, purity, and innocence-which also happen to be his defining traits. He spends his days toiling around the castle practically the "oracle" of the house, Pangloss the tutor. Pangloss has adopted and preaches the philosophy of optimism that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". One day, Candide falls in love with the Baron's daughter Cunégonde, and when they are caught together he is kicked out of the household. From there Candide is enlisted in the Bulgarian army, takes in part of the Inquisition, and travels from Germany to Italy, Spain, Eldorado, and other countries, all the while having his faith in optimism brutally tested. Along his travels he is reunited with Pangloss who has become a "horrible beggar", described as being covered in sores and, "dull-eyed, with the end of his nose fallen away. his teeth black.[and was] tormented with a violent cough and spat out a tooth at every cough." The conversation of Candide and Pangloss-who has contracted syphilis-an explanation of his and Candide's former home's plight, is one of the most entertaining passages in the book. As he explains to Candide how he contracted the disease-which was from the former Baroness's chamber maid Paquette-he does so in such detail (yet ambiguous) and nonchalance that it is all too clear Voltaire is blatantly ridiculing the optimistic philosopher. Pangloss says, "Paquette received this present from a most learned monk, who had it from the source; for he received it from an old countess, who had it from an cavalry captain, who owed it to a marchioness, who derived it from a page, who had received it from a Jesuit, who, when a novice, had it in a direct line from one of the companions of Christopher Columbus." What's even better is that he even has the gall to justify that it was for the best in the, "best of all possible worlds." Sticking to his optimistic motto, Pangloss explains, "It was something indispensable in this best of worlds.for, if Columbus in an island of America had not caught this disease.we would not have chocolate and cochineal." Of course ever naïve Candide agrees and continues to foolishly believe in the philosophy of optimism. Another great part of this book is the debates the characters have. While Candide is travelling, he comes across an extremely unfortunate scholar by the name of Martin who is the exact opposite of Pangloss. Martin totes around with him the philosophy of pessimism, finding evil and despair in everything, but rightfully so as he has a difficult life. He's also more intelligent than Pangloss and is able to draw conclusions much more successfully than him.
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Braffort More than 1 year ago
Chris Ware's pseudo naive illustration on the cover add to Voltaire's acid irony. Extreme stylization allow a surprisingly realist efficiency, as is shown withe the picture of Lisbon earthquake on inside cover. Above this picture, we may appreciate Leibniz large wig, the only (but sufficient) recognizable item.
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